It has been sad days for live music venues. On Thursday, it was announced that the Garrick Centre was under new management and was closing. Since 2000, The Marlborough Hotel has owned the building and it has been connected via a walkway to the hotel. The former four-plex movie theatre closed in 1999 as The Garrick.
It had been originally a movie theatre since 1921 but took the form it is now in 1968 when it became a duplex theatre of just 1500 seats total. The concept started in Canada in Moncton in 1915 and took years for the rest of North America to catch up but in a nutshell it was two screens, one staff. Also, the concept allowed the owner to have flexibility to carry over a movie longer if the local audience warranted it while keeping the other screen open to new releases. The biggest example of this trend was in Winnipeg taking to Phantom of the Paradise which ran from 1974 to 1975 in defiance of what the rest of the world thought. Garrick two showed the movie over and over until it became legend.
In 1979 the theatre became a four-plex and remained that for 20 years. Unlike some other movie houses that deteriorated, The Garrick was always fairly sumptuous. It was with some relief that 1 year after closing that the Marlborough Hotel and Conference and Entertainment Centre was born with the Garrick Centre handling musical booking.
The theatre after $1.5 million in renovations converted to three auditoriums and hotel pool and waterslide. Garrick One was a 600 seat theatre, Garrick Two was a 550 seat music hall, Garrick Three was the poll, and Garrick Four was a 250 seat lecture hall.
A wide range of musical acts performed at The Garrick Centre over the years but it takes dedicated effort to bring acts to town and the takeover of the Burton Cummings just steps away has seen a great influx of performers move there. Also, musical acts moving to casinos in Winnipeg has to be taken into account.
So many live music venues have closed with independently owned hotels closing or moving to different entertainment or uses. The Royal Albert, Montcalm, Lo-Pub and Osborne Village musical haunts are all no more.
The big question is what is meant by new management of the Garrick Centre. Could it mean more of it used by the hotel? Could it mean the hotel itself might be changing?
I was less familiar with the Garrick as a music hall but appreciated the niche it served. I mourned the loss The Garrick because it was a superior movie hall consistently. I still see movies regularly but I find entertainment is so fragmented that how people experience things is part of the problem. It would seem like music should and will find a new place in society given the right places to play of the right size and economics. Tens of thousands are in Dauphin this weekend paying to be there for four days for Country Fest. It is proof that people will still dig deep. But who and how will small artists be nurtured in live performances in the future.
Canada's oldest country music festival gets underway Thursday June 2 and runs through the Canada Day long weekend till Sunday, July 2. This year's featured artists are Keith Urban, Johnny Reid, Luke Bryan and Manitoba's won Doc Walker.
Over 4000 campsites and 14,000 people per day attend the not for profit festival in Dauphin in western Manitoba. With three stages, music is going on all over the site attended to by 2000 volunteers.
Nearly every famous country act has played in Dauphin over the years and the party atmosphere makes it a sell out on a routine basis. This year's top talent should once again make it a packed event and with Canada Day falling right in the middle of the weekend, it should be a great time for celebrate the country's birthday.
Uptown Lanes 1969, Academy Lanes to Close July 2017
Uptown Theatre was built in River Heights in 1931. Lest anyone think it was done without controversy, in typical response of the neigbourhood people on Ash and around said no. The Depression was just a year in and building following World War I was filling in a good portion of eastern River Heights. Kelvin High School (first called Kelvin Technical High School) had just been built in 1912. The next 15 years or so saw a continuing push westward so that Academy Road and Kingsway saw much construction all the way to present Beaverbook Street. In 1927 my own house on Kingsway had been completed.
The need for some commercial development along Academy Road was seen as essential. Banks, bakeries, grocery stores and the like were very much needed when people still mostly got around by streetcar and public transit. The Ford assembly plant on Portage Avenue built in 1915 was producing Model Ts and by the1930s everyone was driving their Model As. However, each neighbourhood needed to be somewhat self sufficient since there was no such thing as a mall back then. Eaton's downtown department store was built between 1905 and 1910 and Hudson's Bay was built in 1926 but they were far enough away that they didn't make sense for daily shopping.
And so it was that Academy Road saw a commercial side from Ash Street to just beyond Niagara Street. Neighbourhead movie theatres abounded in those years. TV was not yet invented. Heck, radio only started in Winnipeg in 1923 and by 1927 only broadcast 40 hours a week and was silent some nights. The idea of a movie theatre in the neigbourhood was was a sound one considering the era.
Still, River Heights got upset back then but were pushed to come to a deal and that is what they did. The deal hinged on a parking lot on Waterloo and a more shallow footprint on Ash Street. The city was asked to come up with a name for the new theatre and the public chose Uptown. The 1600 seat Moorish style movie house was a posh affair and the fifth in the neighbourhood chain of the Miles family.
The theatre became famous for sneak peeks of big movies that were coming. There were a lot of westerns and cartoons for the growing of the population of River Heights. Mostly double features on second run movies was what Uptown showed and this was a successful formula for 30 years. All that then came to and end in the 1950s with the arrival of TV.
By 1960 many families in Winnipeg had turned to TV and old city theatres started to close by the score. And so it was at Uptown. In 1960 it saw a second life as Uptown Bowling Lanes run by the same family who had owned the movie house. Uptown was the largest Brunswick lanes 5 pin bowling alley in the city.
By the early 1970s, the Saturday youth bowling league was bursting to the seams. Almost every kid bowled but by 1982, it was a little harder to draw people in. Brian Britten leased the alley from the Miles family and began a 35 year run which introduced glow bowling and made people believe in birthday parties and fun group events. The re-named Academy Lanes was joined by Billy Mosienko Lanes and Academy Lanes West as a family enterprise.
Meanwhile, the building still owned by the Miles family sought to develop the surrounding land they owned. In 1985, there was a threat to knock down the building but an agreement was made to allow a two floor addition to the east side of the building for commercial use. The west side parking lot became home to Eyelet Dove, Laughing Giraffe and Paper Gallery which stood together for many, many years.
Academy Lanes announced its closing for July of 2017. The building owner has surely another announcement pending about what is to come of the building.
Ten days of the Ex and if there is one thing consistent is that the weather can change in an instant! The last Sunday was pleasant compared to a few days earlier of day long rain. A pancake breakfast and free morning passes for a food donation drew thousands of people.
The variety of food this year varies but everyone has their favourite. I partook of mini-donuts early. It is best not to mix spinning ride, sun and food all too quickly though.
An impressive amount of music and shows with animals rounded out entertainment but there was also incredible quilts, farm equipment and miniature displays, military demonstrations and photographs. Lay out was a little bit different this year as the Ex tries to improve every year.
Despite weather challenges and a very busy city for of activity, the Ex looks to have entertained tens of thousands again this year.
Red River Ex returns to Winnipeg for a busy June full of activities, food, entertainment and rides. It will run from June 16 to June 25. There are so many different audiences the Ex tries to reach out too from the music lover to midway enthusiast. In recent years, the annual event has tried to up their animal events and remind everyone that they continue to big supporters of agriculture. Nature also includes horses, dogs, butterflies and every other type of farm animal.
Three stages will feature music all day every day. Pick your day for teen bands, country band, tribute bands, local singers and artists and the big one this year Canadian platinum artists April Wine.
Parking is available at east and west entrances. Transit delivers to the gates as well. Food is plentiful and sometime this week, Access Winnipeg will show what is available during the Ex to eat while attending.
As always, be prepared for the weather sun or shine...pace yourself on rides that spin, listen to some talent at the stages and enjoy some family time.
Boston Pizza has evolved over the years to become more of a sports destination mixed with a casual dining experience. HD flatscreens have changed bars all over the world. No longer is it one sport on a projection screen or a few picture tube TVs mounted in corners or over bars. Now it is screens numbering 20 or 30 and on multiple sports all at same time! Boston Pizza is one of the restaurant groups that has taken that technology and broadcast innovation and run with it. Likewise, many of their locations now have patios attached to their dining rooms.
Over the many years Charleswood was a bit of a food desert. To be sure there were a few places to get breakfast or coffee or dine out but there was great swaths of the area devoid of anything. Along Roblin Boulevard near Assiniboine Park, the recent arrival of the Capitol Grill and Boulevard has excited residents in the area and beyond. However, further down Roblin it is a lot harder to find places at all.
The Charleswood Centre mall was originally called the Forest Park Mall but re-branded when they lost a key anchor. They transformed to a strip mall/box format and set aside the standard interior mall configuration. There were a few survivors from from those days such as Safeway and McDonald's. Another survivor is Sorrento's Pizza.
One can only imagine how Sorrento's feels that it is about to get a competitor in the parking lot. In the spot that the garden center and in winter Christmas trees are sold will be a new Boston Pizza. Fencing is already up and some work begun.
Now competition is a good thing but two pizza restaurants one in front of the other in the same shopping mall is a lot. Assuming a few months construction, we should see Boston Pizza open up in early fall.
As a side note: Menchies frozen yogurt restaurant closed a few months ago and has been replaced MYNT Dental clinic. Once against this puts the mall in more or less fully leased standing.
It is peak times for brew pubs in Winnipeg. And so it continues this week when the soft opening for One Great Brewing Company happens Thursday at 6 PM for a soft opening. They are 1596 Ness Avenue in what used to be the old Toys R Us building in Madison Square. It is close to Polo Park.
The loosening up of the rules has brought many craft artisans into the business, And why not. The tastes of the beer crowd have expanded from the times when only three major beer companies dominated the country. There is far more choice including smaller local breweries but we have been devoid of local brew pubs save for a few tentative steps towards that in the past. Now the choices are going to be substantial.
Brew pubs allow for a truly local experience. It shows a evolving market over an old style beverage room with the windows blacked out, a tiny table, wobbly chairs and glasses with MLCC on them. The One Great Brewing Company at Madison Square will create an attractive option in the Polo Park area.
It is a tough market for restaurants but creativity and artistry will go along way to establish a real local flavour. Winnipeg needs more of this entrepreneurship.
Despite the clouds moving across the sky and making a hot night even steamier, Winnipeg Goldeyes managed to pull off a win of 5-3 against the Lincoln Saltdogs Saturday night. It was a different story the night before when they lost 11-1 to the same team in a rain delayed game Friday.
The crowd of 4.282 was competing downtown with the 1200 people in white enjoying a meal outside at Table for 1200 stretching from the Richardson Building to Market Avenue in the Exchange as well as thousands at Pride Festival next door in the Forks. Not to mention 2600 at Cirque du Soleil's Kurios opening weekend. And all on Stanley Cup night Game 3.
The Goldeyes still deliver a lot of entertainment for the buck and late eighth inning heroics from Wes Darvill with a double and newcomer Mason Katz scoring a single brought the winning run home. Closing pitching by Ryan Chafee relieving Mikey O'Brien who allowed only one run on six plus innings.
The American Association of Independent Baseball's champions from 2016 are now 11-5 for the year. It isn't always easy being in unaffiliated ball. The Goldeyes are one of the jewels in the crown with Shaw Park. Each year, it is interesting to watch one team after another fold in the southern part of the league. And yet somehow they roll on.
They keys to success for minor league baseball are a stadium, a first class operation from team management to concessions as well as a great additional entertainment component. Winnipeg has too many sport and recreational alternatives if you fail at any of those. The affordable price for families and the special event days keep people interested for the 100 game season.
The CJNU broadcast with Steve Schuster is first rate and the sport coverage by Winnipeg's media treats the team like any major league contender. Want to sell a newspaper in this town? Treat local sports coverage seriously and make it water cooler talk. Shaw TV, Free Press, Sun and Metro and CJNU and TSN cover the team because the sports fans want to follow their team.
It a long season but if this Goldeyes team has shown anything, they intend to contend this year for a repeat at the championship both on and off the field.